Officials are reassuring consumers that the chance of them contracting vCJD is very low. The World Health Organisation is meanwhile currently investigating the risk of consumers in China developing vCJD, after the country’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department confirmed that 64 tonnes of potentially BSE-contaminated animal feed have been imported by Hong Kong from Britain since 1988.

The animal feed, made of ground meat and bone meal, has been banned in Britain due to fears that it harbours BSE. Scientists also believe that by eating animals infected with BSE, consumers can contract the brain-wasting human equivalent of the disease vCJD.

Seventy-five percent of the imported feed was re-exported to the mainland, according to the department. The remainder poses no threat to human health because it was fed to pigs and poultry, it added.

Dr Gloria Tam Lai-fun, Food and Environmental Hygiene assistant director, told the Sunday Morning Post that mainland cows were not given the British feed because they are raised in wild grassland. “As there are no cattle raised in Hong Kong, people here do not have to worry,” she added.